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Grand night for a Cuban beauty

Oct 10. 2014
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Thailand's entrant Pla's swimsuit turns heads in the Miss Grand International pageant
Dark horse Miss Cuba – Lees Garcia – came out of nowhere to claim the crown as 2014 Miss Grand International on Tuesday at the Hua Mark Indoor Stadium.
Garcia outshone 85 other contestants, stealing the spotlight from favourites Miss Ethiopia Hiwot Mamo, Miss Colombia Monica Castano and Miss Canada Kathryn Kohut. Her rewards began with a diamond tiara worth US$40,000, bestowed by Miss Grand International 2013 Janelee Marcus Chaparro.
“I’m excited to be the winner!” an emotional Garcia told the 1,000 or so cheering people in the stadium. “I have a lot of plans for the coming year, including in Thailand. For now I want to thank the organisers and all the Thai people. I will do the best!”
Miss Ethiopia happily settled for first runner-up and Miss Canada for second, while Miss Australia Renera Thompson was named third runner-up and Miss Colombia fourth. 
All five finalists had had to answer the same question: “If you become Miss Grand International, what would you do to stop war?” Miss Cuba’s answer seemed to capture the judges’ hearts most. 
“I hope you have all seen my heart today onstage,” she said. “If I am able to become Miss Grand International, I will show the entire world what one person can do to make a change. We can make use of our wonderful tours around the world to make changes, like using the social media every place we go to share ideas for making peace.”
Miss Vietnam Linh Cao won a prize for Best National Costume, Miss Thailand Parapadsorn “Pla” Disdumrong for Best Swimsuit, Miss Indonesia Margenie Winarti for Best Evening Gown, and Miss Japan Mieko Takeuchi for Best Social Media. 
Another highlight of the evening came when emcees Matthew Deane and Sonia Couling and Annalie Forbes, a runner-up in last year’s pageant, led the audience in a a “Flashdance” segment with “What a Feeling” pounding out. 
Right after that, the 10 semi-finalists came onstage in their “business look” outfits designed by Ramsita and made another political statement, “Stop the War”.

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